1 Choose your blend Case stories from real classrooms that show how to succeed with blended learning WHAT IS BLENDED LEARNING? 1
2 What is blended learning? Blended learning is the mix of the online and physical classrooms. It can take many forms and formats, and teachers use it for different reasons. Some find that it enables them to preteach and check understanding before class, while others use it to give their students greater choice over when and where they study. But, whatever the format and reason, teachers who practice blended learning agree that it helps drive student engagement and ultimately, performance. The theory - 10 benefits of blended learning - The blended classroom - Choosing your blend: The blended models The practice - Flipping out for the flipped classroom - Learning by design - Empowering students to choose when and where they study - An online education 2 WHAT IS BLENDED LEARNING?
3 itslearning: A safe and secure learning platform When researching this paper, we visited many schools and educational institutions. In all the examples here, the teachers use itslearning to support blended learning. A secure online learning environment, itslearning enables teachers and students to share work and information together in a safe and private online space. WHAT IS BLENDED LEARNING? 3
4 10 benefits of blended learning 1 Better use of classroom time By moving some activities online, you have more face-to-face time with your students. 3 Easier differentiation You have more time with individual students and so can better tailor your teaching to their needs. 5 More engaged students As students can prepare online before class, they are more engaged in the topic from the start. 2 More active students You spend less time lecturing, so your students have more time to practice what they have learnt. 4 More creativity for students Students are motivated by online resources that enable them to create videos, animations, podcasts and other media as part of their schoolwork.
5 6 Modern skills Blended learning helps students develop the critical-thinking and creative skills demanded by modern employers. 8 7Less paperwork Many learning platforms automate routine tasks, giving you more time for teaching. Simple administration Learning platforms enable you to store all your resources, marking and admin files in one place. You can make these available to your students, other teachers and parents with one or two clicks Lower costs Many schools and colleges report reduced long-term costs due to less expenditure on textbooks, paper and photocopying. Better informed parents Most students do online work at home, giving their parents a greater chance to take part. 10 BENEFITS OF BLENDED LEARNING 5
6 Professor John Hattie found that 50% of what is taught in the classroom is already known to students
7 The blended classroom at school You could argue that the school classroom has not changed since the 1950s. But while the basic set-up remains the same, modern technology is opening up new possibilities for teachers and students. Today, many teachers blend the physical and online classrooms in their teaching: We call this the blended classroom. online at home THE BLENDED CLASSROOM 7
8 The blended classroom The physical classroom The physical classroom gives you a good overview of where the class is and how they are progressing. You can respond immediately to your students and give direct and personal feedback. It also gives your students the chance to develop the interpersonal skills needed for face-to-face work. The online classroom The online classroom enables you to pre-teach before a class or course begins, and discover in advance how much your students already understand. It also allows you to extend activities after the class has finished, and is ideal for formative assessment: Students can submit work online, for example, and receive your feedback before the next class or final deadline. We have shown how different technologies can improve learning by augmenting and connecting proven learning activities. The 2012 NESTA report Decoding learning: The Proof, Promise and Potential of digital education
9 Choosing your blend The four most common models for blended learning 1 Rotation model Students rotate between learning modalities, at least one of which is online. Each modality has a different approach to the same learning objective. Work can be completed at school or in other locations. Teacher role: The teacher sets the rotation schedule, gives direct instruction at one learning modality and monitors progress. Student experience: The students experience many ways of learning, but have little choice in when and where they learn. Includes: Station rotation, lab rotation, flipped classroom and individual rotation models. CHOOSING YOUR BLEND 9
10 Choosing your blend Teacher role: 2 Flex model The teacher provides group instruction Online learning is the backbone of instruction. Most learning is done in the classroom, but group instruction is kept to a minimum. and individual support as needed. Student experience: Students move on an individually customised and fluid schedule among different learning modalities. 10 CHOOSING YOUR BLEND
11 Choosing your blend 3 A la carte model A course that students complete entirely online to accompany other experiences at the school, with regular support from the teacher in the physical classroom. Teacher role: The teacher mainly gives support online, although this can also be face-to-face Student experience: Students often take a la carte courses to supplement the standard curriculum at the school. In these courses, they work at their own pace with face-to-face support when needed. CHOOSING YOUR BLEND 11
12 4 Choosing your blend Enriched virtual model The course is delivered through online study, with infrequent face-to-face classes. Teacher role: These models are a framework for teachers to use when developing and discussing blended learning. Most teachers pick and choose elements from the different models to suit their class. The teacher leads face-to-face classes and provides remote assistance to students through exchanges and online discussion boards. Student experience: In between face-to-face classes, students work at their own pace and get online support from the teacher. 12 CHOOSING YOUR BLEND
13 The practice Real-life examples of blended learning These case stories show how four teachers and schools have adapted blended learning theories to suit their own needs, with great success. Each case story shows a single blended learning model in operation. However, most teachers borrow from different techniques to suit the subject and students and so use a number of different models during a semester or week. Same product, new wrapping When researching this paper, we spoke to many teachers who didn t realise they were practising blended learning. They were simply doing what they d always done: Asking students to study in their own time as well as in class. The only difference was that the students self-study was supported by an online element. THE PRACTICE 13
14 Case study: Flipping out for the flipped classroom Rotation model (flipped classroom) Bjørgvin Secondary School, Norway In traditional teaching models, the students learn the theory in class and then do practice assignments at home. The flipped classroom flips this idea around (hence the name). A common example of the rotation model, the flipped classroom enables you to better prepare students before class, so you can focus class time more effectively. 14 WHAT IS BLENDED LEARNING?
15 Case study Bjørgvin Secondary School, Norway 1. Teaching the theory online The teacher films herself explaining the theory she is going to cover in the next class. She uploads the video to itslearning, her school s learning platform, as an assignment. For homework, the students watch the video and then do a quick digital test in itslearning to check their understanding. 2. Preparing the class The test report tells the teacher if anyone struggled with a particular aspect of the theory. She plans her next class to focus on areas where her students need most help. She also identifies which students struggled, and sets aside time to work with them one-to-one. 3. In the classroom During class time, the students complete assignments in groups or alone, online or on paper that practice the theory, while the teacher speaks to individual students and answers their questions. She may also cover a particular aspect of the theory in front of the class if many students struggled with it. Students themselves have to take responsibility. If they haven t seen the video before class it may be difficult for them to keep up. Mathematics teacher Elisabeth Engum CASE STUDY 15
16 Case study: Learning by design Flex model Maria Primary School, the Netherlands Learning by design is an innovative approach to teaching that lets students decide what they study and how they demonstrate what they ve learnt. 16 WHAT IS BLENDED LEARNING?
17 Case study Flex model Maria Primary School, the Netherlands Collaborating through itslearning At this school, the students work and collaborate in itslearning, the school s learning platform. The final products can be shared through itslearning with other classes, teachers and parents and teachers often add the products to a discussion forum so that other students can give feedback to the creators. We can see that our students study skills have improved significantly since we introduced learning by design a few years ago. But more importantly, I see more motivated and happier students and more motivated and happier teachers. 1. Students decide what they want to learn The teacher starts by asking her students to brainstorm what they already know about the subject, as well as what they want to know. 2. Finding the answers The teacher puts the students into groups and asks them to set about finding the answers to their questions. They can consult resources they find useful, from reference books and the internet to their parents and siblings. 3. Demonstrating learning When the students have completed their research, they create a product usually a video, presentation or podcast that explains the answers. The product is shown to the rest of the class and the teacher marks it to set the student s grade. 4. Teacher as facilitator Teachers act as facilitators; regulating the questions the student will answer, pointing them towards useful resources and guiding them in their work. If the teacher notices that a child is struggling - or needs to be pushed further - she will step in, offering one-onone tuition, giving the students extra study materials or adjusting their group task to better suit their needs. CASE STUDY 17
18 Case study A la carte model Växjö Fria Gymnasium, Sweden Empowering students to choose when and where they study Elite athletes comprise one third of the student body at Växjö Fria Gymnasium (VFG) and many students miss large chunks of the semester due to competitions and training. VFG uses a version of the a la carte model to ensure these students can successfully combine academic studies with high-level competitive sports. A fully online library As students are often away from the brick and mortar school, access to the library can be difficult. The school overcomes this issue by putting every resource, including books, on itslearning in digital format. This means students can browse library resources from anywhere and at any time using their mobile phones, computers or tablets. 18 WHAT IS BLENDED LEARNING?
19 CASE STUDY 19
20 Case study A la carte model Växjö Fria Gymnasium, Sweden 1. Everything ready six weeks in advance Every teacher at the school puts their lesson plans on itslearning, the school s learning platform, six weeks in advance. This means the students can plan their training schedule around their schoolwork and ensures they are in school for the most important classes. 2. Work anywhere and anytime The lesson plans include links to online study materials. These materials include everything from reference books and articles to tests and videos of the teacher explaining the theory so that students can complete the work online if they miss a class. 3. Individual learning plans keep everyone on track Teachers and students use Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) a standard tool within itslearning to track progress. The teacher and student set learning goals together in the ILP. As the course moves forward, they can go back to the ILP to check targets and enter information to demonstrate progress. The ILP is also available to other teachers and the student s parents, so everyone always knows how learning is progressing. If a student falls behind, the teacher is quick to step in.
21 Case study Enriched-virtual model AHAB-Academy, Germany An online education This higher education centre has found that blended learning can help thousands of students re-train and re-qualify, even while working full-time. As the students come from all walks of life, the centre uses distance learning courses that allow students to study at their own pace and in their own style. 1. Preparing for the courses At the start of the course, each student is given access to itslearning, the centre s online learning platform, where they can find study materials including online lectures, links to articles, podcasts and instructive videos. The students begin working through the materials in their own time. 2. Creating an online community In order to stop students from feeling isolated, the teacher creates an online community where the students can ask each other questions and share experiences. Each week the teacher sets up a discussion thread in itslearning that the group of students can discuss together. CASE STUDY 21
22 Case study Enriched-virtual model AHAB-Academy, Germany 3. Completing assignments online When the teacher feels that the students are ready, she sets them assignments designed to test and stretch their new knowledge. These are completed online, but can be both theoretical or practical (a Nordic Walking assignment, for example, may include videoing yourself walking). 5. Final certification The final stage of all courses is a two-part certification: the students sit an oral and written exam, and then work remotely on a written assignment that covers a particular issue in-depth. 4. Moving into the classroom After completing the online section of the course, the students gather for two weeks of face-to-face classes. On longer courses, this pattern is repeated, with more online learning followed by more face-to-face classes. The beauty of this approach is that students have the flexibility to choose when they study. Teacher Nicola Goltz 22 CASE STUDY
23 References and further reading Reports 1. Staker, Heather & Horn, Michael B. (2012) Classifying K 12 Blended learning, Innosight Institute, CA, USA, Classifying-K-12-blended-learning2.pdf 2. Staker, Heather (2011) The rise of K-12 blended learning: Profiles of emerging models, Innosight Institute, CA, USA, The-Rise-of-K-12-Blended-Learning.pdf 3. NESTA (2012) Decoding learning: The Proof, Promise and Potential of digital education, Retrieved June 20, 2013 from report Books 4. Hattie, John (2012) Visible learning for teachers, ISBN: Ruthledge, NY, USA 5. Wiliam, Dylan (2011), Embedded formative assessment, Solution Tree Press, IN, USA 6. Wiliam, Dylan (2011) Embedded formative assessment, ISBN: , Solution Tree Press, IN, USA 7. Nottingham, James (2013), Encouraging-Learning, Routledge, NY, USA Online articles and resources 8. Blended learning with learning platforms. itslearning s blended learning resource page 9. The flipped classroom by Elisabeth Engum 10. Trondheim municipality, Norway. Web cameras give new possibilities in itslearning 11. Blend your classroom. Blended learning approaches revolutionising teaching 12. Why Flipped Classrooms Are Here to Stay (Education Week) Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams 13. Tucker, Catlin (2011), Video: online Discussions (Part 4): Your Role, Weaving Strategies and Assessing It All, ( ) REFERENCES 23
24 24 WHAT IS BLENDED LEARNING? For more information about itslearning please visit: